Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Joan Baranow, PhD

First Reader

Perry Guevara, PhD

Second Reader

Mojgan Behmand, PhD


This culminating project examines Byronic heroes using psychoanalytic theory across four case studies in media, including classic literature, theater, film, and television. The Byronic hero is a literary archetype inspired by the poet George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824). Typical characteristics include angst, arrogance, cunning intelligence, criminality, desire, passion, dominance, and otherness. The characters I have chosen to study include Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (1847), the Phantom from the 2004 film The Phantom of the Opera, James Bond from the 2012 film Skyfall, and Damon Salvatore from the hit television series The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017). Through examining the actions of these characters through a psychoanalytic lens, I argue that the Byronic hero is driven by his experience of intense loss and state of melancholia, as defined by Freud. When a subject is in a state of melancholia, they have lost an ideal or love object, and they fail to move on with this intense loss. They become outcasts of society through this loss. In addition to Freud, I also incorporate psychoanalytic theories and ideas from Melanie Klein and Silvan Tomkins. The purpose of my study is to examine how Byronic heroes, who are in a state of melancholia, deal with the losses they have suffered from.